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Ambivalent Intimacies – Essay One [64%, 2007]

Image of the feedback sheet critiquing Chris Larham's essay discussing Anthony Giddens' quotation on the nature of subjectivity [64%, 2007].

This essay will ultimately contest Anthony Giddens’ statement that our sense of self, our identity, is not derived from our ‘subjectivity’ – “determined by one’s own mind or consciousness” – but instead comes about through ‘inter-subjectivity’, our relationships “between, among” others. In order to discuss Giddens’ aforementioned quote, I will make reference to the concept of the ‘mirror stage’ formulated by Jacques Lacan, a concept which stipulates that our “sense of self, then, comes from something external.” Following Lacan’s lead, I will provide examples from Sarah Waters’ ‘Affinity’ and Helen Simpson’s ‘Hey yeah right get’ a life that appear to provide support for the notion that it is our relationships among others which provides the basis for our sense of self. Closely examining Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ‘Confessions’ and Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’, I will then proceed to deconstruct Giddens’ statement, showing how ‘inter-subjectivity’ cannot be the guarantor of one’s sense of self. The final step of this deconstruction will be to demonstrate that ‘subjectivity’ and ‘inter-subjectivity’ are not even categorically distinct concepts, and I shall highlight the inextricable interplay between the two terms, inherent in their definition, with an example from Jim Crace’s ‘Being Dead’.

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Posted in English Degree [Bachelor of Arts]